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The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan

Until Dawn is one of this generation’s most influential sleeper hits. Beginning its life as an ambitious PlayStation Move title, it evolved into a visually captivating survival horror experience that subverted expectations in the most wonderful of ways. 

The Dark Pictures is the next evolutionary step for developers Supermassive Games, building upon its suspenseful chops with a collection of horror adventures that will presumably jump between ghosts, aliens and axe murderers alike to spook players into submission. 

Man of Medan is the first chapter in this new venture, taking players on a brief yet enjoyable journey aboard a haunted ship where nothing is as it seems. While it doesn’t boast the budget or creativity of Until Dawn, it remains a solid outing in its own right that’s an absolute blast with a friend by your side. 

Not that I’d want to play something like this on my lonesome anyway… 

Related: Marvel’s Avengers Preview

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Control Review

Long before Control, Remedy Entertainment built its reputation on abstract storytelling, leaning into paranormal themes that define its adventures with unwavering dedication. For the most part, it’s worked wonders, with projects such as Max Payne and Alan Wake remaining beloved until this very day – others, such as the polarising Quantum Break, somewhat less so. 

Even if it failed to capture the magic of Remedy’s best work, Quantum Break still innovated with spectacular shooting mechanics, making use of time travel in a way nothing in the medium has before. The environment shifted and fell apart around you, timey-wimey nonsense making each firefight a joyful exercise of mayhem. 

While it doesn’t delve into the convoluted nightmare of time travel, Control builds upon many of the ideas introduced by the studio’s predecessor. The reliance on environmental destruction and abnormal storytelling is bigger and better than ever, thrusting the player into a world that continuously changes before them. 

This unpredictability is both Control’s greatest strength and most damaging weakness, making it impossible for everything I love about it to find a common ground where it truly excels. Instead, we have a solid third-person shooter that never quite reaches the heights it’s aiming for. 

Related: Marvel’s Avengers gameplay preview

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Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 Preview: Our thoughts after a few hours with the game

The RPG shooter (or “shlooter”, as I’ve come to call it) formula has evolved massively since Borderlands 2 launched back in 2012. It has practically grown into its own genre with the likes of Destiny 2, The Division 2 and other mixed attempts such as Anthem trying to dominate the minds of players with oodles of content. Oh, and loot. Lots and lots of irresistible loot. 

Gearbox Software might have helped pioneer the genre and its inner workings all those years ago, but it has plenty of ground to cover if it hopes to once again reign supreme among some genuinely stellar competition. Following a few hours of play, it appears Borderlands 3 is taking the right steps to engage players in a way the series simply hasn’t done before, and that’s definitely a good thing.

A shooter experience once considered archaic in the eyes of modern spectators is now fresh and filled with life, dripping with activities in which to partake that extend beyond the excellent main narrative. Combine that with plentiful character classes, a huge world and you’ve got an eclectic recipe for success.

However, it’s a shame the writing remains as a goofball and scattershot as it has always been, although that’s a matter of personal taste. 

Related: Upcoming Xbox One games

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Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

It’s still hard to believe that Monster Hunter World is now Capcom’s best-selling game of all time, eclipsing the likes of Resident Evil and Devil May Cry by a significant margin. Initially a niche franchise that seldom broke ground outside Japan, the series is now having millions poured into it as the publisher’s flagship product.

This reputation is deserved, since the original release is positively fantastic. While some niggles remained, it did the impossible and translated a previously impenetrable formula into an absorbing adventure that everyone could enjoy. Every monster you bested was a thrilling achievement in itself, with many on Team Trusted losing days to earning their hunter rank.

Capcom aims to continue its streak of brilliance with Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, the first and only expansion, which will strive to deliver as much content as a full release. It will take players to a luscious new landmass drenched in snow, with endless plains of ice transforming all we’ve come to know of the continent.

While not transformative, this stark change of aesthetic makes for a wonderfully refreshing return. Monster Hunter World has been out of the spotlight long enough to make me genuinely excited about jumping into Iceborne. As for hardcore hunters, they’ll be drooling over everything on offer here. 

Related: Upcoming PS4 Games

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Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Intelligent Systems’ RPG series has been a niche effort for much of its history, with releases outside of Japan quickly falling into obscurity as rare copies sold for ludicrous prices online in a matter of months. It never quite found its footing – that is, until the release of Fire Emblem: Awakening in 2012. 

The Nintendo DS exclusive kicked open the floodgates, welcoming millions of fans into a strange, wonderful world of political espionage and adorable anime boyfriends (or girlfriends; Fire Emblem isn’t picky). The rest is history, with the franchise now cemented as one of Nintendo’s flagship names alongside Zelda, Mario and Metroid.

Fast-forward seven years and we have Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the series’ first entry to debut on Nintendo Switch with the exception of a Musou spin-off. It’s a brave evolution of an established formula, moving the series forward while never forgetting what made it so special in the first place. That, and I got to fulfil my dreams of going to war with a bunch of gay warriors. What’s not to love? 

Related: Upcoming Nintendo Switch games

I’m the last person people should be asking for advice, but Three Houses puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders

As is the series’ tradition, Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes place in a world of political and religious turmoil. Throughout the continent of Fodlan, regal families communicate through peaceful diplomacy or all-out war, seldom finding compromise in a spitefully unpredictable society. You act as a mercenary in these lands, exploring them with your father and taking on odd jobs to make ends meet. 

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Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is an anomaly. A co-op focused shooter with players taking control of series protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz’s twin daughters Soph and Jess, as they tear their way around a Nazi-occupied 1980’s Paris. 

It’s bonkers, even by the tongue-in-cheek standard Wolfenstein set in its 2014 reboot, The New Order. Nazi-approved nu-wave kicks out of boom boxes while the Nazis themselves flee from Soph and Jess’ assault. You and a buddy tear through crowds of fascists, giving a thumbs-up at each to increase each other’s respective health and armour. 

Wolfenstein: Youngblood, crucially, isn’t the sequel you might have been waiting for. It’s a weird mix of spin-off and experimental sequel, which keeps the pulse-pounding combat, but also flirts with elements from live games and Dishonored-style level designs, courtesy of a collaboration with Arkane Studios.

Some of these elements work, while some fall flat, but Wolfenstein: Youngblood is good enough (and weird enough) that fans of the franchise, or shooters in general, will find plenty to love – and it’s rare that shooters of this ilk let you bring a friend, in this case a wisecracking Jade King, along for the ride.

Related: Best FPS Games

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

“I don’t see any other doors,” says Iron Fist, as we come up against one of the ninja clan The Hand’s nefarious traps. “We’ll have to solve this puzzle if we want to get through the door.” 

The statues are a few centimetres away from glowing floor tiles. Push the statues onto the lit-up floor and before you know it, the door is open. I guess The Hand’s grandmaster of puzzles was dealing with some budget cuts. 

He isn’t the only one. While there’s a certain charm to Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, it reeks of cut corners and systems not explored. It’s a game that will provide fan-service to supporters of Marvel’s recent output in comics, films and TV, but will leave those old enough to remember the stellar X-Men Legends and earlier titles in the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance franchise with disappointment of superhuman proportions. 

It’s been a decade since our previous entry in the Ultimate Alliance franchise, and the reason for its rebirth – and soft reboot – now is simple: since 2008 Marvel has been taking the world by storm, acting as a cultural colossus in the minds of millions. Ultimate Alliance 3 focuses more on the comic books, but pulls in references from all over: the plot of Infinity Stones falling to earth and bringing about a Thanos inspired punch-up fits with the recent movies, even if the execution is different. 

Related: Upcoming Nintendo Switch games

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Oninaki

While it hasn’t been subject to the critical acclaim of classics that inspired it, Tokyo RPG Factory has been waving the flag of traditional JRPG design for many years now, producing efforts that echoed the golden age of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. 

I am Setsuna and Lost Sphear struck a chord with genre purists, awash with impressive storytelling and robust, traditional mechanics that would’ve fit right in 20 years ago. This dedication to such a specific time in gaming history was a double-edged sword, drawing in the familiar while doing little to bring newcomers into the fold. 

Now, in comes Oninaki, an experimental foray into the JRPG landscape that once again bathes freely in tradition, yet isn’t afraid to dip its toes into more daring waters this time around. It’s a tragic, emotional and wonderfully thoughtful adventure, placing a focus on mortal themes that will resonate with everyone. 

But is this enough? From what I’ve played so far, it just might be – striking a careful balance between the annals of history it draws from so gleefully, while looking forward at progressive ideas. Obviously this isn’t the most visually spectacular and mechanically transcendent RPG of the generation, yet is still shaping up to be a melancholic adventure worth taking. 

Related: Upcoming Nintendo Switch Games

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The Surge 2

When The Surge launched back in 2017, developer Deck13 was afraid that its sci-fi adventure would be branded as a cheap imitation of Dark Souls, little more than a reskin with mechanics that didn’t match up to the masterful original. But once players delved into it, what awaited was something far more complex. 

A layer of strategy sat beneath the combat system that made each and every encounter an exercise in finesse. Each limb could be dismembered, weakening enemies or leading them to drop equipment that would soon prove valuable in your own quest. It felt excellent to play, taking place across a bleak, intertwining world that was a joy to explore.      

However, it was a tad generic, confined to industrial facilities which largely all felt the same. Seldom did you venture outside them, unable to discover a wider world filled with alien technologies. The Surge 2 tackles this criticism head-on, taking us into the sprawling metropolis known as Jericho City. It’s massive, and filled with far more variety from the outset. 

A new setting isn’t the only enhancement Deck13 brings to its ambitious sequel, seemingly tightening all the screws to deliver a deeper, more concise trip to its mechanical hellscape. 

Related: Upcoming Xbox One Games 

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Dragon Quest Builders 2 Review

At first glance, you’d be forgiven if you labelled Dragon Quest Builders 2 as a rather shameless Minecraft clone. Its world consists of endless cubes making up sprawling deserts and dense forests, filled with iconic monsters from decades past that the series has come to call its own. Fans of the franchise will feel right at home here. 

The idea of building your own place of belonging is eerily similar to Mojang’s effort, but the JRPG flavouring that surrounds it is what sets Dragon Quest Builders 2 apart in so many brilliant ways. Outside of constructing buildings, farmlands and bathhouses you’ll embark on an epic world-spanning journey, making plenty of friends along the way while completing quests and other missions. 

It’s carried by a sharp variety of dialogue and oodles of tutorials, some of which drag on a little too long if I’m honest. It can take a while before you’re unleashed into the thick of things. That aside, Square Enix has crafted yet another fun, accessible journey of creativity I was more than happy to embark upon. 

Related: Best PS4 Games 

One of your first major tasks will be planting dozens of essential crops. Cherries, anyone? 

My adventure in Dragon Quest Builders 2 begins as a prisoner aboard a ghostly pirate ship. A crew of skeletons, bats and other nasty creatures have taken me into captivity, fearing the one thing I was born to do – build. The art of building is forbidden in this world, with its inhabitants content with living in misery as their crops wilt and farm animals fail to produce anything. 

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The Sinking City Review

It’s hard not to appreciate what The Sinking City, Frogwares’ latest detective-’em-up, has tried to achieve, even if it flubs the execution. 

The Sinking City seeks, primarily, to link up the gameplay of Frogwares’ own Sherlock Holmes franchise with the writings of acclaimed (and controversial) horror writer H.P Lovecraft, trying to play with the world of cosmic horror he created. 

Indeed, fans of his work will find plenty of small references. Meeting a man clad in a yellow suit in the opening moments, you share a nod before soon after being introduced to Robert Throgmorten, who resembles Lovecraft’s own Arthur Jermyn in all but name. These references come in thick and fast, and they go a long way in establishing the world — and a tone — in the opening hours.

The Sinking City’s biggest success is the mood it creates. The half-submerged city of Oakmont is being torn apart by colossal storms while strange creatures, known as Wylebeasts, skitter and slime in the darkness. There’s no reason any sane person would choose to loiter here, and as a result it’s a fascinating portrait of ruin. Many of the inhabitants either can’t or won’t leave, as the city is slowly overcome by an unsettling pressure.

Related: Crash Team Racing – Nitro-Fueled Review

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Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled Review

Mario has long reigned supreme in the kart-racing genre, its mixture of accessible racing and abundant creativity returning each and every generation to blow rivals such as Team Sonic Racing away. Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled arrives as yet another contender for the podium.

Bringing with it a remastered vision of the PS1 classic alongside a welcome handful of new bells and whistles, this new kart racer adopts a similar visual makeover to Crash and Spyro’s recent efforts. Crash Team Racing proves to be both gorgeous and challenging, with the latter arguably being a detriment in the end. 

Crash Team Racing is a wonderfully charming racer that’s a blast alone and with friends, although it never quite achieves greatness with a blueprint that sticks a little too closely to the original’s iconic experience. 

Related: Super Mario Maker 2 Review

The setup for Crash Team Racing is rather simple. An alien overlord known as Nitros Oxide has chosen Earth as its battleground to prove his kart-racing prowess. If Crash and friends fail to best him, their planet will be the next in a long line to be destroyed by the evil menace. If only all hostile invaders were down for a cheeky race or two before destroying civilization. 

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Super Mario Maker 2

If you fancy taking your very first baby step into game design or simply love 2D platformers, Super Mario Maker 2 on Switch is an absolutely essential purchase. 

With Nintendo handing over the keys to the Mushroom Kingdom, Super Mario Maker 2 gifts you almost every single enemy, item, platform and gizmo featured in over three decades worth of Super Mario side-scrolling action, allowing you to play around with a seemingly unlimited pool of possible combinations.

Of course, this isn’t the first entry to the build-your-own Super Mario saga, with the original Super Mario Maker launching back in 2015 on the Wii U and a port arriving on the 3DS in 2016. But since a lot of people never bothered to buy the under-performing console, and the portable alternative lacked the important online functionality, the Nintendo Switch looks to be the starting point for many wannabe Mario makers.

Related: Amazon Prime Day 2019

Those who played the previous instalments won’t be disappointed either – this isn’t just a padded out port disguised as a sequel; a new story mode, abundance of fresh tools and the introduction of the Super Mario 3D World game style make Super Mario Maker 2 a worthy successor. 

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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Review

Say what you want about Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’s protagonist Alucard, but he’d never be seen in Kung Fu shoes and a pirate hat. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night answers an important question: what if Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, except anime? That’s how you would describe this game to your friend.

That’s why this spiritual successor to the beloved classic, development led by Castlevania series producer Koji Igarashi, stars your main character as an orphan in a short skirt, dealing with the after effects of an alchemist’s curse while accessorising with a variety of different hats and scarves.

Spiritual successor is a term with certain connotations, and can tether the game to those that have come before. Sometimes, this can work well: Bioshock is a spiritual successor to System Shock 2, but both games are beloved and Bioshock has a lot of its own ideas and polish. Unfortunately, several other games have used the term as a way to try and monetise nostalgia by producing a game that hews close to a nostalgic favourite without offering up many of its own ideas. 

Related: Judgment Review

When “spiritual successor” is used, it’s not immediately apparent where the finished game will slot into the Spiritual Successor Spectrum (a Trusted Reviews original invention.)

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Judgment Review

Stepping away from Yakuza was always going to be a dangerous step for Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. It has called the series home for 14 years, and shared the same bond with its titular hero, Kazuma Kiryu. His journey is over, and it’s time to make room for a new generation of heroes and the stories that await them.

After much controversy following its Japanese release, which saw an actor arrested for cocaine allegations, Judgment has finally landed on our shores, bringing with it a new spin on the Yakuza formula and an abundance of welcome changes. Takayuki Yagami’s adventure still takes him to the darkest reaches of the Japanese underworld, yet a different perspective makes all the difference.

Once again, Judgment calls the tried-and-true town of Kamurocho its stomping ground, inspired by Tokyo’s real-world Red Light District, albeit with a few obvious liberties. But as a disgraced lawyer, Yagami doesn’t find himself intertwined with the machinations of Yakuza. Well, not just yet. It’s only a matter of time until things get messy.

Related: Breath of the Wild 2

Despite his fall from grace, Yagami still has a plenty of friends to help him out

Judgment’s hero is Takayuki Yagami. Once a proud lawyer, he was thrown aside after a man he once proved innocent kills again, throwing his credibility as a man of law out the window. The truth behind this conspiracy will unfold throughout the narrative, having set a compelling foundation I couldn’t wait to build upon.

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Shenmue 3

The moment when Shenmue 3 was finally announced to the world will forever be etched into my mind. Yu Suzuki’s ill-fated ambition was finally going to be finished, although fans would have to contribute millions and front the bill to make the journey a reality. Now, it’s almost here, with E3 2019 offering one of the very first opportunities to go hands-on with the upcoming narrative adventure.

Sadly, it’s undeniably rough around the edges, seemingly put together with a shoestring budget that seldom feels like it belongs in this generation. Yu Suzuki evidently has one specific experience in mind for Shenmue 3, and it’s one that happily maintains all the qualities of its predecessors, and that includes all the negatives.

Ryo Hazuki is a slow, prodding protagonist with a stylish jacket and tight-fitting jeans, determined to find the man who killed his father and bring him to justice. The original plan was to tell Shenmue’s epic story across multiple games, but its troubled creation, extraordinary budget and relatively obscure game design kept it in the realms of obscurity.

I can’t help but admire what Shenmue 3 is going for, trying it’s very best to continue a story that started so many years ago despite the odds being set against it. But having spend 15 minutes with the game, I’m not impressed.

Related: Breath of the Wild 2 

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DOOM Eternal

Developers id Software’s 2016 reboot of DOOM treated its titular character like an unstoppable deity, a force to be feared by humans and demons alike, as this ancient force ripped and tore through any living thing that stood in his way.

For us, it was an insurmountable power fantasy of epic proportions, reaching such points of absurdity that it transcended parody. Yet it worked, with the mythology being perfectly aware of its own ludicrous foundations. It’s one of the reasons I love it so much, and why DOOM Eternal strikes an immediately resonant cord.

This is a direct continuation of past events, following our space marine as demons invade our planet and threaten to tear apart the universe as we know it. Having played a solid chunk of the upcoming sequel, I’m pleased to say it does everything I loved about the 2016 reboot and more.

I mean, the Super Shotgun has a grappling hook now, what’s not to love?

Related: Best FPS Games

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Hands on: FIFA 20 Review

EA Play 2019 is in full-swing and Trusted Reviews has had opportunities to go hands-on with a range of upcoming games, and that includes the latest iteration of Electronic Art’s hugely popular sporting sim, FIFA 20. 

Alongside all the usual visual enhancements and license updates, FIFA 20 is taking things a step further with some additions that strive to shake up the formula, although it’s too soon to tell whether this will be truly meaningful. The Volta Football mode – a spiritual successor to the FIFA Street sub-series – takes the limelight, but my hands-on time was unfortunately reserved exclusively to stadiums. 

FIFA 20 release date – When does it come out?

FIFA 20 hits stores worldwide on 27 September 2019. You can preo-rder yourself a copy right now.

FIFA 20 Cover Star – Who is it?

Nothing official has been confirmed regarding the cover star of FIFA 20 thus far. Although, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah featured in the demo’s menu, and given the team’s recent Champion’s League victory, he seems a likely candidate.

FIFA 20 trailer – How does it look?

During the EA Play 2019 showcase, Electronic Arts released a trailer for FIFA 20, which shows off the new Volta Football mode. Have a look for yourself below.

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Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers

I might have still been in secondary school at the time, but alas, I was one of the cool kids and remember when the original Final Fantasy 14 crashed and burned. Square Enix delivered the most disastrous MMORPG experience of all time, opting to stew in its own archaic juices instead of rightfully taking influence from a world that had long moved on. World of Warcraft transformed the genre, altering mechanics that would never be the same again. Blizzard had scorched earth, and there was no turning back.

Fast forward to 2019, and Final Fantasy 14 is one of the biggest MMORPGs in the world, arguably overcoming World of Warcraft in the public consciousness with the comeback of a lifetime. A Realm Reborn reimagined the base game as a competent foundation with wondrous endgame content, drawing in millions of players from across the world. Heavensward and Stormblood, the first two expansions, only made things better. Now we come to Shadowbringers, a brand-new expansion that boasts oodles of new content, gameplay changes and more.

While it’s difficult to judge an expansion from a virtual slice of its offerings, I was hugely impressed by some of the new additions coming to FF14 as part of Shadowbringers. Whether it’s the new races, quests or settings, I can see fans taking to this like Chocobos to Gysahl Greens.

Related: Best RPGs  

Shadowbringers pulls players away from the safety of Eorzea, planting them in a new world known as The First. Drowned in light, this strange new land needs The Warrior of Darkness to banish evil and restore darkness to the land. As expected, you’re just the warrior this otherworldly place needs to make things right. I adore the subverted expectations this expansion brings with it, having you banish light when you’d usually embrace such things to win the day. Personally, I’m hyped to reach for my inner darkness and kick some butt.

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Layers of Fear 2 Review

One of the best things about survival horror is how the supernatural can alter your sense of perspective completely. Ground you once considered solid can be dissolved into nothing at a moment’s notice, while the arrangement of a room will alter the second you turn the camera.

Layers of Fear 2 transports you into a world where nothing feels real. Every second of this horrifying journey was spent doubting my own reality. Corridors would shift from pristine cleanliness into displays of unsettling spectres waiting around every corner.

Bloober Team has crafted a horror sequel that hides plenty of deep, dark secrets behind its assuming persona, yet it ultimately feels like a step backwards compared to Observer, its previous game. It’s a spooky adventure drenched in routine, but one still worth embarking on if you’re a hardcore fan of the genre. 

Related: Best Xbox One Games

The nautical setting never quite reaches its claustrophobic potential

Set aboard an ocean liner, you play as a nameless actor who finds himself landing the role of a lifetime. However, the acclaimed director you’re working alongside harbours a sinister reputation. He’ll do anything he can to make his pictures perfect, even if it means pushing people to breaking point in truly disturbing ways. You’ll delve into the psychological backstory of this twisted auteur throughout Layers of Fear 2, the finer moments of which I won’t spoil here.

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tynmanz Monthly Studio Report: May 2017
11 June 2017
I don't think they should continue to put features into it. They can add them later.

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